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Giro d'Italia: Week Three, Still Climbing

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Alberto Contador in the Maglia Rosa. Photo: Susie Hartigan

Welcome to the final week of the Giro d'Italia. The Giro organizers have never seen a mountain stage they didn't love, and this final week of racing is filled to the brim with mountainy goodness. After today's rest day, the Giro heads to Belluno for a climbing time trial. Then, it's on to a succession of mountain passes as the Giro winds its way through Northern Italy to Milano. The Giro's grand finale comes on Saturday with a return to the white gravel roads of the Colle delle Finestra.

Some races become immediately famous. You watch them knowing that you will not likely forget them any time soon. In 2005, the Giro climbed the Colle delle Finestre, a climb notable for its gravel roads. On the early slopes, Simoni, DiLuca, and Rujano, the on-form climbers of that Giro, escaped. Pushing against gravity and the clock, the threesome ran down the race lead of Paolo Savoldelli. Italian television, milking every drop of drama, ran black and white filters over the video. Anything in black and white must certainly be heroic. Savoldelli, known best for his fearless descending, never lost his nerve. Throughout that Giro, and all his Giro victories, he rode doggedly against the flamboyant attacking of the climbers.

At the summit, the white gravel blinding in the sun, the threesome held a solid advantage over Savoldelli. But the Bergamasco had not played his final card, and on the road to the stage finish at Sestrière, the race turned over. Simoni and Rujano left DiLuca for dead on the road, after DiLuca cramped. I crampi, i crampi! Savoldelli, meanwhile, found (or bought) friends on the road, and the lead of the climbers steadily disappeared. At the line, Simoni declined to sprint Rujano. In the end, the dramatic attack dissolved into nothing more than a beautiful memory, and Savoldelli ended the Giro as the overall winner. Read Gav's Week 3 Preview.

On to the finale!